From Tragedy To Triumph: The Story of Abel Tasman

Updated: Mar 12


The day that Abel Tasman was born at Clearsky Farms was a day marked with tragedy.


Abel Tasman's dam, a Deputy Minister daughter named Vargas Girl, had much difficulty giving birth to her. Her complications from foaling were so severe that she passed away, leaving behind her newborn Quality Road filly. Abel Tasman had to be resuscitated and fortunately survived.

Abel Tasman was raised by a nurse mare and grew up strong and beautiful. According to Taylor Made Farm’s Mark Taylor, she is exactly what you would want from a Quality Road foal. In an interview with Thoroughbred Daily News, he described her as having good length, an elegant and long neck, and a deep shoulder.


On top of her beautiful build, the filly boasted a strong dirt pedigree. Her sire Quality Road had a pretty solid career on dirt and has been producing good dirt runners himself. Her damsire Deputy Minister also performed well on dirt. Plus, Abel Tasman carried a strong female line.

The filly was offered at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale in 2015, but failed to reach her reserve of $65,000. She therefore remained a Clearsky homebred. She was named Abel Tasman and sent to trainer Simon Callaghan.


Abel Tasman began her racing career under the guidance of Simon Callaghan in Clearsky Silks. She made her debut in August of 2016 at Del Mar, mimicking her dam's debut by finishing fifth. She broke her maiden a month later at Santa Anita Park and returned to Del Mar to win an allowance in November.

Her fourth start, the Starlet Stakes, would be the mare’s first try in a grade one race. She hinted at what her three-year old season would be like by going four wide around the final turn and charging home to win by one length. The China Horse Club was impressed with Abel Tasman after that race and decided to purchase a percentage of her.

She made her first start of her three-year old season in the Santa Ysabel Stakes (G3), finishing second to the strong Unique Bella. Afterwards, Abel Tasman was transferred to Bob Baffert and her jockey changed from Joe Talamo to Mike Smith.


Her first start for her new connections was in the Santa Anita Oaks (G1), in which she finished second, 11 ¾ lengths behind Paradise Woods.

Bob Baffert knew that his filly was talented enough to win a big race, so he put blinkers on Abel Tasman to make her more competitive. With hopes high for a rebound from the Santa Anita Oaks, Abel Tasman was entered into the Kentucky Oaks (G1). In stunning fashion, Abel Tasman flew from last place to a one length victory.

The next goal was to prepare Abel Tasman for the Breeders' Cup World Championships Distaff (G1). She swept the Acorn Stakes (G1) and Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) and grabbed a second place finish in the Cotillion Stakes (G1) in preparation for the Breeders' Cup.


Abel Tasman came with her signature late run in the Breeders' Cup Distaff, but fell just short of victory to Forever Unbridled. The race capped off an incredible three-year old season that earned her the title of American Champion Three-Year Old Filly.

Abel Tasman was taken out of the races to get a well-deserved rest until May of 2018 when she made her four-year old debut in the La Troienne Stakes (G1). She finished fourth but quickly rebounded to obtain wins in the Ogden Phipps (G1) and Personal Ensign Stakes (G1).


Her win in the Personal Ensign Stakes was controversial due to bumping Elate that caused the other filly to lose her run, but the stewards did not change the results in the race. The crowd booed her and Mike Smith when they entered the winners circle.

Her next start in the Zenyatta Stakes wasn’t a great one either. According to Mike Smith, she was lethargic as she loaded into the gate and she broke slowly. In the stretch, she lacked her closing kick and finished fifth.


Despite her loss, she was entered into the Breeders’ Cup Distaff to try for a win for a second time. This time, she didn’t seem into the race at all and finished dead last.

Clearly, Abel Tasman was ready for life on a farm. The decision was made to retire her instead of continuing to push her to race. With eight wins from fourteen starts and nearly $2.8 million in earnings, retirement was well deserved.


She entered Keeneland’s 2019 January Sale ring with all eyes on her. Every photographer was hoping to snap a picture and every breeder wanted to get their hands on her. She went into the ring with a $3 million starting point and the hammer went down at $5 million. Coolmore would be taking her to join their broodmare band.



Abel Tasman was bred to Galileo in 2019. The world now awaits the arrival of her first foal. No one can be completely sure if she will be as good of a broodmare and she was a racehorse, but everyone in the racing world definitely has their hopes high. Only time will tell if her legacy will continue.

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